Club History

The badge of Gidea Park Bowling Club shows a bowling green outside Gidea Hall where the Club was founded and where a green existed prior to 1797. The badge incorporates the Gidea Park Ladies Bowling Club badge which shows two seaxes (a type of Saxon knife), indicating an association with the County of Essex (which coat of arms shows three seaxes), five wavy lines indicating Romford i.e., the ‘wide’ ford over the river Rom, an aircraft propeller indicating connections with Hornchurch (war time) aerodrome, a representation of a cloud, the significance of which is unknown, and a Saxon crown, which could be the crown of Edward the Confessor who owned the Living of Havering.

Brief History of Gidea Park Bowling Club

The Club was founded in 1912 outside Gidea Hall, an impressive mansion the origins of which date back to 1250. A bowling green existed outside the Hall prior to 1797, when it was bought by Alexander Black, and it remained there until the end of WW1 when the Hall and its grounds began to fall into disrepair. Gidea Hall was demolished over the winter of 1929-30. In 1923 the Club moved to Reed Pond Walk on the Gidea Park Exhibition Estate which was built on 441 acres bought from Herbert Henry Raphael. Raphael also founded the Romford and Gidea Park Golf Club and gave 20 acres to Romford Urban District Council (RUDC) including the lake. This area now forms part of Raphael’s Park.

In 1928 the Club moved to the Gallows Corner Sports Ground where it currently resides. By this time Sir Herbert Raphael had died (in 1924) and his property was bequeathed to his nephew Major Ralph Raphael MC, who became Chairman of Gidea Park Estates, the company that owned the land. In 1927 Ralph Raphael put the Gallows Corner Sports Ground up for sale. The 11 acres containing two cricket grounds, five hard tennis courts, bowling green, football, hockey and croquet grounds and pavilions, would be suitable for eight houses to the acre i.e., 88 houses. Fortunately, the RUDC stepped in and compulsorily purchased the land. Romford officially became a Borough in 1937 thus enabling it to have a mayor.

In 1938 the Ladies who used the bowling Club as “visitors” decided to form their own club, the Gidea Park & Romford Women’s Bowling Club. During 1939, at the beginning of WW2, the sports ground, including the bowling green, was requisitioned by the Air Raid Precautions to position a field gun battery to shoot down German V1 Flying bombs (Doodlebugs) and V2 rockets. At the end of the War the green was in a dreadful state and was unplayable; it remained so until 1951 when a new Cumberland Turf green was laid.

At the end of the Fifties a new confidence was beginning to emerge in the country and in 1964, because the Pavilion facilities were cramped a specific pavilion for bowls was proposed. This did not become a reality until 1969 and it was extended in 1972, the Club’s Jubilee year, to include a bar. In 1990 the Ladies changed their club name to the Gidea Park Ladies Bowling Club. At present we are as indicated in the title. In the same year preparations began to build a new clubhouse. In 1995 applications were made to the Foundation for Sport and the Arts for a £25,000 grant and also to the Sports Council Lottery Fund for £40,000. This became the National Lottery Fund which approved a grant of £25,000. In 1998 the National Lottery Fund granted us £108,943. The new Clubhouse was completed in the late spring of 1998 and the official opening was attended by several notables, including Tony Banks, MP Minister for Sport, Eileen Gordon MP for Romford, and a representative of the Sport Lottery Fund who presented a jumbo-sized cheque for £108, 943. The remaining cost of about £100,000 was raised by the members themselves.

In 2012 we celebrated our centenary with a dinner at Romford & Gidea Park Golf Club with Andrew Rosindell MP as our Patron. In 2014 our retiring green keeper, Brian Kempster received the BEM from Lord Petre, 18th Baron Petre of Writtle, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, in recognition of almost 35 years dedication to the upkeep of the green.

Taken from: David I Edwards, Gidea Park Bowling Club, Essex, 1912-2012. A History of the First Hundred Years (2012).